Illustrator: Wheaton, MD
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Katherine Janus Kahn

Katherine Janus Kahn has been illustrating children’s books for television and print for over 30 years.

Katherine’s adventures with children’s books started when she went to Israel as a volunteer after the Six-Day War.  She took 3 pencils, a tablet of drawing paper, and an eraser, with the vague idea of starting to draw again.  She had always been the class artist in elementary school, but she had stopped.  She hasn’t stopped again since Israel.

While she was in Israel, she worked in the Negev Desert on an archeological dig and harvested olives on a kibbutz in the Galilee. She went to art school in the newly united city of Jerusalem.  It was the first time in 20 years that Jews were allowed into the old city.  The city glows golden in the sun, because it is built with the famous yellow Jerusalem stone.  Its narrow streets and alleys are like a maze, leading the visitor to the smells of spices and strong Turkish coffee, the sounds of tinkling bells on donkeys carrying  bundles as big as they are; and silver pitchers and colorful fabrics and in the bazaars.  Women walk through these narrow streets clothed all in black with only their eyes showing.

Katherine’s “Sammy Spider” series for preschoolers, by Kar-Ben Publishing,  is an engaging introduction to Jewish traditions told by Sammy, a curious spider, who watches everything that Josh and his mother are doing from high up on the Shapiro's living room ceiling.

Each story covers a specific Jewish holiday and a learning concept.   The original book, Sammy Spider’s First Hanukkah, teaches numbers and colors using the candles of the menorah.  Different books cover the seasons, one day, sizes, sounds, the five senses, and many more concepts important for young children.  Kahn's brightly colored collage illustrations and simple bold designs for the "Sammy Spider" series have been widely praised. The books are used in hundreds of Jewish preschools across the country. A Publishers Weekly reviewer has compared the series to the work of Eric Carle.  The series has also been translated and published in France by Yodea Publishing. Read about the 20th birthday of the Sammy Spider series at Karben Publishing.

Katherine is also the illustrator of the award-winning Ziz series. The lovable Ziz is a magnificent bird-like creature from Jewish folklore who has his own way of looking at the world, much as young children do!  His adventures began in The Hardest Word and continued with Noah and the Ziz, The Ziz and the Hanukkah Miracle, and The Princess and the Ziz.

For the WETA-TV program “Cover to Cover”, Katherine won the Golden Hugo Award from the Chicago International Film Festival for her illustrations for the program on “A Wizard of Earthsea,” by Ursala LeGuin , an exciting book of a sorcerers’ school written long before Harry Potter.


Sammy Spider Series

Sammy Spider's First Hanukkah

Sammy Spider’s First Hanukkah
Sylvia A. Rouss, 1993
Kar-Ben Publishing, Lerner Publishing Group
9780-9293-7146-7  $7.95 PB pre-school
Numbers and Colors

Hanukkah Fun Book
9781-5801-3032-5 PB

 Sammy Spider's First Passover

Sammy Spider’s First Passover
Sylvia A. Rouss, 1995
Kar-Ben Publishing, Lerner Publishing Group
9780-9293-7182-5  $7.95 PB pre-school

Passover Fun Book
9781-5801-3032-5 PB

Sammy Spider's First Rosh Hashanah

Sammy Spider’s First Rosh Hashanah
Sylvia A. Rouss, 1996
Kar-Ben Publishing, Lerner Publishing Group
9780-9293-7199-3  $7.95 PB pre-school

Sammy Spider's First Shabbat

Sammy Spider’s First Shabbat
Sylvia A. Rouss, 1997
Kar-Ben Publishing, Lerner Publishing Group
9781-5801-3006-6  $7.95 PB pre-school
Days of the Week

Shabbat Fun Book
9781-5801-3147-6 PB

Sammy Spider's First Tu B'Shevat

Sammy Spider’s First Tu B’Shevat
Sylvia A. Rouss, 2000
Kar-Ben Publishing, Lerner Publishing Group
9781-5801-3065-3  $7.95 PB pre-school
The Seasons

“This charming book for three to seven-year-olds is illustrated by a pro in the field of art for children’s books, Katherine Janus Kahn, providing brightly colored artwork that is sure to delight a young child.” -- The Kansas City Jewish Chronicle

Sammy Spider's First Purim

Sammy Spider’s First Purim
Sylvia A. Rouss, 2000
Kar-Ben Publishing, Lerner Publishing Group
9781-5801-3062-2  $7.95 PB pre-school

Sammy Spider's First Trip to Israel

Sammy Spider’s First Trip to Israel
Sylvia A. Rouss, 2002
Kar-Ben Publishing, Lerner Publishing Group
978-0-9293-7146-7  $7.95 PB pre-school
The Five Senses

School Library Journal writer Amy Kellman wrote that in Sammy Spider's First Trip to Israel: A Book about the Five Senses Kahn's artwork is actually "stronger than the text"

Sammy Spider's First Sukkot

Sammy Spider’s First Sukkot
Sylvia A. Rouss, 2004
Kar-Ben Publishing, Lerner Publishing Group
9781-5801-3142-1  LB $15.95 pre-school
9781-5801-3083-7 PB $7.95

“Waiter, There’s a Spider in My Sukkah!”, 2007, JFLMedia, Gershom Gorenberg
"Actually, there’s a third way to look at Sammy Spider’s First Sukkot—as art education. My nine-year-old stared at Kahn’s illustrations, all brilliant collages, and said, 'I want to do that,' and began collecting scraps of paper."

Sammy Spider's First Haggadah

Sammy Spider’s First Haggadah
Sylvia A. Rouss, 2007
Kar-Ben Publishing, Lerner Publishing Group
1-5801-3230-8, pre-school, PB $5.95

Kids can join right in the seder, as Sammy leads the simple retelling of the story, songs, and rituals that follow the order of the adult service.

Sammy Spider's First Shavuot

Sammy Spider’s First Shavuot
Sylvia A. Rouss, 2008
Kar-Ben Publishing, Lerner Publishing Group
9780-8225-7224-4 LB $15.95, pre-school
9780-8225-7225-1  PB $7.95
A Sidney Taylor Notable Book for 2009

Sammy Spider's First Day of School

Sammy Spider’s First Day of School
Sylvia A. Rouss, 2009
Kar-Ben Publishing, Lerner Publishing Group
9780-8225-8583-1 LB $15.95 pre-school
9780-8225-8584-8 PB $7.95
Kindness to Animals

Ziz Series

The Hardest Word

The Hardest Word: A Yom Kippur Story
Jacqueline Jules, Karben Publishing

"A long, long time ago the world had many large and fabulous creatures. One of those creatures was a gigantic yellow bird with dark red wings and a purple forehead. He was called the Ziz."

The Ziz, a clumsy but good-hearted bird of folklore, is always making mistakes. When he accidentally destroys a vegetable garden, he flies to Mount Sinai to ask God for advice.

Notable Book for Young Readers, Association of Jewish Libraries, 2001
National Jewish Book Award Finalist, 2002

Noah and the Ziz

Noah and the Ziz
Jacqueline Jules, Karben Publishing

Many children know the bible story of Noah's ark. But do they know who collected the animals for the ark? Noah had to gather leaves for the giraffes, bananas for the monkeys, and hay for the cows. How could he go in one direction to get the pandas and another direction to get the kangaroos?

Noah and the Ziz, by the award-winning author Jacqueline Jules, answers this question by sending the Ziz to the rescue.

The Ziz and the Hanukkah Miracle

The Ziz and the Hanukkah Miracle
Jacqueline Jules, Karben Publishing

Whenever the Ziz has a problem, he goes to Mount Sinai to seek God's advice. In The Ziz and the Hanukkah Miracle, this giant yellow bird has a hard time dealing with the darkness of winter. God gives him an oil lamp, but then asks him to share it. With the personality of an exuberant preschooler, the Ziz finds his task very difficult. The result is a new spin on the Hanukkah story. 

How did the miracle of Hanukkah occur? The story offers no explanation. All we know is that the oil that was supposed to last only one day sustained the Temple menorah for eight wonderful days. Many interpret the story to mean that a little bit of oil burned for eight days. Others interpret it to mean that the cruse used to fill the menorah with oil never became empty.

With no clear explanation, there is room for a midrash--a story which expands on a biblical text by offering details or commentary. A midrash can explain the significance of a single word. Some provide folkloric extensions to the original bible stories. The Ziz and the Hanukkah Miracle is a modern midrash which gives the giant yellow Ziz a pivotal role in the Hanukkah story.

Selected by the Sidney Taylor Book Award Committee for its list of Great Hanukkah Books for Children!

The Princess and the Ziz

The Princess and the Ziz
Jacqueline Jules, Karben Publishing

Called on to watch over King Solomon's daughter, the eager Ziz takes the princess on a joyful trip around the world.  But when she falls in love with a handsome young man, the Ziz's jealousy gets the giant bird into trouble in The Princess and the Ziz, the fourth in the series of Ziz adventure stories from the team of Jacqueline Jules and Katherine Janus Kahn.

"The fourth book in the Ziz series about a mythical, supersized, lovable, klutz, child-like bird, The Princess and the Ziz incorporates the theme of jealousy and making things right in a dryly humorous story about friendship and love." -- Ottawa Jewish Bulletin.





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